On our way out to CO for missions training we drove through Fort Riley and Junction City, Kansas. Fort Riley looked just the same. All the housing, just as I remembered it, having ridden through those streets on the school bus so many times. I got out of the van at our old quarters and walked around. I met my first homeschooled friend there, next door. Drove past the garages converted from horse stables. Drove up the hill to my old middle school, where I passed my very favorite school year, 6th grade. Not even Mrs. Sample’s Brit Lit and Mr Smith’s Chemistry in 10th grade at Lee’s Summit High School could eclipse my year at Fort Riley Middle School. Drove past the big hill where Dad left us sledding in the cold with those homeschooled friends and Mom got so irritated. Drove past the Fort Riley Elementary School where the tall metal swings still stood, 20 years later. On the way out of post there was a dog park where the buffalo used to be. No more caged bison. Shocking, I know.
We drove through Junction City to our townhouse there. I tap danced in that kitchen, read in my bedroom with the window open while it rained, talked to Dad in my bedroom, just the two of us. We drove past the Church of Christ in Junction City, which was so much smaller than I remember it I almost couldn’t believe it. The years at that church were very formative for me spiritually because that’s when I started going to Silver Maple Camp. Camp is where my love of singing was born, and it was a place of incredible learning. I returned to Silver Maple year after year until I was in high school.
Lastly we stopped by Eisenhower Elementary, the school I attended before we moved on post. I sat and nursed Faith, my fourth born, on the step of the shadeless playground where I played so many years before, and watched my older 3 play now.
As I contemplate leaving the country of my birth for a new one, I am so thankful my husband took an hour break on our drive through Kansas to let me see with adult eyes the places of my youth. Over the last few months I have been able to process my years in Fort Riley and Junction City. I’ve finally integrated the bad (the part when kids were mean to me as the new kid in school) with all the good. In many ways those years were defining for me, and my soul is at peace with them now.